Unions have a huge effect on the working conditions, including the compensation of workers. In fact, even non-unionized employees can sometimes benefit. According to data released in 2020, the public sector has the highest number of unionized workers.
What Is a Labor Union?
It is an organization of workers who come together to make choices about their working conditions. Labor unions intend to bring economic justice to the workplace, including pay, benefits, leave, hours, and work health and safety policies. This is done through collective bargaining, wherein they negotiate directly with employers on behalf of the workers.
Unions are funded by their members’ dues that generally cost around $50 a month. Often, they hire paid personnel to handle their operations or sometimes volunteer members. Almost all industries have union members, like educational services, construction, transport, utilities, and others.
How Do Unions Affect Employees?
Every place has a minimum wage mandated by their governments. It is the lowest compensation per hour that a worker may get. In the United States, as of 2021, the federal wage rate is $7.25 per hour.
Unions will argue with employers if they think that their workers do not get reasonable pay. The employers will then decide if they give in to their employees’ demands or present counterarguments. If unions fail to negotiate or are not satisfied with the outcomes of their collective bargaining, they may initiate strike or work stoppage.
In most cases, unions consider safety and health in the workplace as mandatory topics of bargaining. They bargain for higher health and safety standards, including all elements that add to better safety and workers’ happiness and contentment in the workplace.
For instance, they might negotiate necessary health and safety training in sectors with a high risk of injuries, such as the warehousing manufactured goods industry. It may also be much better equipment to avoid accidents.
Data suggest that unionized workers are about 18% to 28% more likely to have health insurance coverage provided by their employers. They even get more generous health advantages than non-unionized employees. They also pay lower health deductibles at 18% and a smaller share for the family coverage costs.
After retirement, unionized workers can be covered by health insurance paid for by their employers.
More Vacation Time and Paid Leave
According to the same data, unionized employees receive 26% more vacation time and 14% more overall paid leave, such as holidays and vacations. One of the goals of labor unions is to enhance the standard of living for all employees. This can be achieved by establishing an 8-hour workday, more holiday time, and paid leave to spend more time with their families.
Help Lessen Discrimination in the Workplace
In the United States, unions help raise the income of women and Black and Hispanic workers. They help correct salary discrepancies. Records reveal that unionized Black and Hispanic workers get above-average wage boosts. That’s why Black employees tend to join more unions than their White colleagues.
The Bottom Line
Labor unions enable employees to have a voice in the work environment. Employees deserve a raise, health and safety in the workplace, and time off to take care of an emergency. Because it’s nearly impossible or difficult for one or two employees to negotiate with their employers, that’s when unions step in.
While there are downsides to being a member, such as paying regular monthly fees, the advantages help workers secure a much better working life.